A ghost village emerged as an artificial lake “emptied” almost completely on the Spanish-Portuguese border due to the drought, attracting crowds of tourists and old villagers who went to see up close spooky places, ruins, pieces of a life that “froze”.
As the lake level dropped to 15% of its capacity, traces of life in the village of Atheredo, which flooded in 1992 to create the artificial Alto Lidoso Lake in northwestern Galicia, Spain, came to light again.
“It's like watching a movie. “I have a feeling of sadness,” said 65-year-old retiree Massimino Perez Romero of Coru .a. “My sense is that this will happen over the years due to the drought and all that, with climate change.”
Walking on the muddy ground, cracked by drought in some places, visitors found partially damaged roofs, bricks and wooden debris that were once doors or beams, and even a tap with water still running from a rusty pipe. Boxes with empty beer bottles stacked in a former cafe and a half-ruined old rusty car next to a stone wall.
Drone footage showed the dilapidated buildings. Maria del Carmen Janet, mayor of the Lobios community in Atheredo, said the drop in the lake level had been caused by a lack of rainfall in recent months, especially in January, but also by “very aggressive exploitation” by the Portuguese electricity company. EDP power plant, which manages the lake.
On February 1, the Portuguese government ordered six artificial lakes, including Alto Lindoso, to virtually stop using water for electricity generation and irrigation due to the worsening drought. The EDP did not comment to Reuters.
Questions about the viability of artificial lakes are not new. Last year, residents of many Spanish villages protested the way electricity companies used the lakes after a rapid pumping from a lake by the Iberdrola company in western Spain.
The company claimed to have complied with the rules. Data from the Ministry of the Environment show that Spain's artificial lakes are at 44% of their capacity, well below the average of about 61% in the last decade, but still exceed the levels recorded in the 2018 drought.
A ministry source said drought indicators showed a possible deterioration in the coming weeks, but had not yet identified a widespread problem across the country.
Jose Alvarez, a former builder from Lobios, felt a mixture of nostalgia and fatalism, remembering when he worked at Atheredo. “It's terrible, but that's the way it is. That's life. “Some die and some live,” he said.
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